Figueroa v. SpeersAnnotate this Case
The district court declared a vacancy in the Adams County School District 12 Director District 4 school board director position because defendant-appellee Amy Speers was elected but unqualified to serve. An issue arose when the two candidates signed affidavits affirming that they met all the requisite qualifications to hold the office, but unbeknownst to Speers, the School District had redrawn the director districts in 2012, and had placed Speers' home outside of Director District 4. The School District's designated election officer was also unaware that Speers no longer met the residency requirement, and deemed both petitions sufficient. Neither the sufficiency of Speers' petition nor her certification to the ballot was challenged within the five-day window (under C.R.S. 1-4-909(1) (2014)). The election officer's certification of both candidates to the ballot was therefore valid. In a final attempt to effectively withdraw Speers from the election, the Secretary of State issued an emergency rule at the end of the final day of the election that instructed the clerks not to count the ballots cast for Speers. A district court invalidated this rule as incompatible with Colorado's election code, and we upheld that court's decision in "Hanlen v. Gessler," (333 P.3d 41 2014)) because "questions regarding a certified candidate's eligibility [must] be determined by a court, not an election official." On remand, the district court considered plaintiff-appellant Enrico Figueroa's claims that Speers was not eligible to hold office, that the votes cast for her were invalid, and this he was legally elected to the Director District 4 position. The district court concluded that because neither Figueroa nor any other party sought any judicial intervention whatsoever prior to the election, Figueroa had "slept on his rights" and thus Speers had won the election. Regarding Speers, the court found that there was no dispute that she was ineligible to hold the office for which she was elected and because she had not sought to take the oath of office and did not intend to cure the residency defect, her election was voided. The court then declared a vacancy in the Director District 4 position. Figueroa appealed directly to the Colorado Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court held that, though Speers was unqualified to serve, no court declared her to be unqualified until after the voting had been completed. In this situation, the legally elected party is the party who receives the most legal votes. Thus, Speers was legally elected because she received the most legal votes, meaning Figueroa was not legally elected. The district court therefore correctly voided her election and declared a vacancy under the provisions of Colorado' selection code, and its judgment was affirmed.